I had an interesting conversation yesterday with the attending I was working with. He’s an interesting guy, very blunt, to the point, and has no qualms in asking very personal questions.
In anesthesia, you’re paired up as a single med student with an attending. A lot of people find this intimidating, but I like the one-on-one teaching you get. Often-times when the cases are cruising-along you get the chance to sit back, relax, and chat. So he asked me yesterday point blank, “Why are you single?”
It’s an uncomfortable question. Being without a significant other as I have been largely for the last two and a half years (a number that coincides you’ll notice with how long I’ve been in medicine) is definitely something that makes me feel like there must be significant personal flaws with myself in order to make myself undateable. I answered the normal things I say when I’ve been asked this before. I’m busy, and don’t have a lot of time to devote to a a relationship, which is true. I’m fairly picky, I can get along with most people, but for those I date seriously I need to really “click” with. And I’m full of a lot of personality quirks that make those people I find few and far between. Then I mentioned the theory of women in medicine being as my friend called it, “lepers of the dating world”. You look at my classmates. The vast majority of the males in my class are coupled up. Oftentimes with far more attractive women than they would likely be with if they were plumbers or mechanics. I understand that power and money is attractive to a lot of girls. But then look at the females in my class. There is a huge number of single girls. And I mean these are very attractive, clearly intelligent and motivated women. It’s mind boggling that they would all still be unattached.
So why the double standard? I feel as though while we’d like to think we’re in the twenty-first century and everything is equal and happy, we’re really not there yet. I’ve been on a few dates here and there, and the initial date goes fine, I have a good time etc., but when attempting to set up date two, and I have to postpone for two weeks because I’m on call three times next week, and then have an exam to study for, a presentation to make, etc., it’s hard for most guys to want to continue into a relationship knowing that they’ll be playing second fiddle to your career, at least for the next essentially 6 years of your life. The other thing I think plays into it, although likely subconsciously in the minds of most males is the feeling of inferiority that comes with dating someone who is going to be 1) in general have a higher degree of societal respect that you (it continually shocks me at how much people respect doctors), 2) will, in the far, far future, likely outearn you by likely a factor of at least 3, and 3) will work longer and more demanding hours that you. Put those facts together and I think you’ll agree most men find it that being in medicine, for a woman, in an inherently unattractive quality.
It was such an interesting conversation (and probably to a degree slightly unprofessional). “You’re a good-looking girl, who is a freaking gymnast! How on earth are you still single?” (don’t worry, he’s married so it definitely wasn’t a come on). When I said my piece about the women in medicine being undateable however, he told me I was using this as an excuse.
Probably to a degree. If I was really desperate to be dating someone, I’m sure I could be. I could lower my standards, find someone who is happy to see me only for a day every couple of weeks etc. I was dating someone this summer who was like that. He was crazy about me (why, I have no idea!) and he was happy with whatever bit of time he could have with me. Unfortunately he was very insecure with himself, and I wasn’t able to handle his constant need for reassurance and confidence boosting pep-talks. Great guy, and I really hope he finds a girl who can be more of a cheerleader for him, but I just didn’t have the patience to manage it.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have someone to be here for me. To be able to come home to. To talk to about my day with, to cuddle up with on a couch, and to give me a hug when I’m feeling down. But I also am not able to commit a huge amount of myself into starting a relationship right now, which makes things hard. If roles were reversed, I doubt I’d be happy dating someone who is so committed to their career at this point in time.
So here’s today’s confession: I am trying out the world of online dating. I feel incredibly, incredibly embarrassed about this. I know it’s really not a big deal; I’ve had friends who’ve met online that have gotten married, and several others that are in happy relationships. But part of me feels as though, “What’s wrong with me, that I can’t meet a person the good-old fashioned normal way?” I feel so, so desperate in doing this. But since I’m not holding anything back in this blog, why start now. We’ll see what horrors and duds exist in cyberspace dating…